To celebrate the launch of the New Balance 247 sneaker, on January 7, 2017, seven cities around the world are throwing seven parties to celebrate. However, Canada is doing things differently with three separate parties thrown across the country to celebrate the country's streetwear culture and the unique place New Balance has within it.
The Montreal chapter, the Montreal By Night 247 Party, will be co-hosted with Off The Hook and hosted at Never Apart helping highlight the city's diverse, homegrown, and internationally famous music scene with performances from talented Montreal musicians Shash'u and Koriass.
We spoke to Harry Drakopoulos, one of the founders of Off The Hook ahead of the party. Being head of Canada's number one streetwear store and helping oversee the boutique's move into its new space, we spoke to Drakopoulos about the Montreal scene, how he and Off The Hook weather the changes happening in the industry, as well as what New Balance and the new 247 means to him and the scene.
Why this location? Talk us through the architecture of the new place.
The two questions go hand in hand. The hotel seamlessly merges modern architecture and interiors with the history of Old Montreal. The hotel is based around the concept of open spaces, so we coexist with Café Olimpico and the hotel's common area. We never thought we'd open a second location, but the opportunity to create a unique shopping experience alongside another Montreal icon in Café Olimpico and inside a stunning, original hotel was too good to pass up.
Talk us through the Off The Hook journey. How did you start?
We started in 1999 on the outskirts of Montreal, and by 2001 we had moved to the heart of Downtown. We've lived through trends and seen different figures move from brand to brand. We've had the chance to work with a number of different partners over the years to create environments in the store, collaborative products, or unique experiences for our customers.
Tell us about the streetwear scene in Montreal. What changes have you seen since you started?
When we started, we sold Wu-Wear, TripleFiveSoul, and Zoo York. The internet was really a turning point – people started coming into the store looking for stuff they'd seen online. It forced us to focus on bringing in some different product that was exclusive in Montreal. Today we carry a mix of streetwear staples, menswear pieces, and some contemporary techwear.
What’s the significance of New Balance to the scene?
New Balance has been an important player for a while, and the real significance is that appeals to people across the spectrum. Whether it's streetwear heads or menswear guys, they feel comfortable in a pair of New Balances. And with New Balance's latest drops, the tech guys are rocking more and more New Balances.
What does the brand mean to you?
Classic well-made product.
How does it feel to be part of this project?
It feels great to be able to use our new space to help launch a shoe like the 247. Working with New Balance is something we've been eyeing for a while, so when the 247 popped up, it was a natural starting point.
Tell us about the sneaker. Have you tried it? What are your first thoughts?
The sneaker is emblematic of everything New Balance is at the moment: mixing the brand's lifestyle and performance inspirations to create a shoe that's incredibly comfortable, but also easy to wear. It's probably going to be one of my go-to's for Spring.
What do you make of the retail industry as it stands at the moment? How are you keeping up with the pace? Do you need to?
We've managed to weather the storm that some other retailers are going through, because of moves we made a few years ago that positioned us on the right side of the market. There's going to be some big changes coming to the landscape in the next few years and we're going to see some new players coming up -- and new ways of doing business. Telling stories was what was important when we were coming up, and it's coming back in a big way.